Conference Proceedings Paper
THORIUM FUEL CYCLES IN THE CANDU SUPERCRITICAL WATER REACTOR
The 5th International Symposium on SuperCritical Water-cooled Reactors - 2011 March 13-16
Martin Magill (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Jeremy Pencer (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Russel Pratt (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Wade Young (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Geoffrey W.R. Edwards (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Bronwyn Hyland (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
The CANDU® supercritical water-cooled reactor (SCWR) is Canada’s primary contribution to the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). The goals of GIF include the development of next-generation reactors with enhanced safety, resource sustainability, economic benefit and proliferation resistance. There is great potential for enhancing the sustainability of the nuclear fuel cycle by extending the availability of current resources through the use of thorium fuel cycles. Recent studies of thorium-based fuel cycles in contemporary CANDU reactors demonstrate the possibility for substantial reductions in natural uranium (NU) requirements of the fuel cycle via the recycling of U-233 bred from thorium [1-4]. As thorium itself is not fissile, neutrons must be provided by adding a fissile material, either within or outside of the thorium-based fuel. Various thorium fuel cycles can be categorized by the type and geometry of the added fissile material. The simplest of these fuel cycles are based on homogeneous thorium fuel designs, where the fissile material is mixed uniformly with the fertile thorium. These fuel cycles can be competitive in resource utilization with the best uranium-based fuel cycles, while building up an inventory of U-233 in the spent fuel for possible recycling in thermal reactors. When U-233 is recycled from the spent fuel, thorium-based fuel cycles can provide substantial improvements in the efficiency of energy production from existing fissile resources. In this paper, two homogeneous CANDU-SCWR thorium-based fuel cycles using reactor-grade plutonium as the fissile driver material have been examined. As the CANDU-SCWR reactor concept is still in the early development and design stages, various lattice and channel parameters can be varied to optimize the reactor for a specific fuel type. The impact of varying some of these parameters to optimize for thorium fuel has been studied. In this paper, thorium fuel cycle options are examined and compared with respect to initial Pu driver fuel requirements, U-233 recycling, and exit burnup.
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